I initially resigned due to the lack of an Ipsalu public statement on this matter. Ipsalu Tantra International has now issued a statement (below). However, my resignation is still final as there are several reasons I am no longer in alignment with the organization’s mission and approach.
From Bodhi Avinasha ~ Founder of Ipsalu Tantra International
I have just learned of a matter that makes me feel nauseated – news of child abuse at the Satyananda Ashram in Australia, and also in his main ashram in Bihar India. Ipsalu finds these reports disgusting, the behaviors reprehensible.
We have mentioned Satyananda in our line of lineage, as Sunyata’s guru, but this part of his nature could not be further from the few techniques we have extracted from his teachings. We absolutely condemn involving children in tantric work. Ipsalu has even refused teenagers who wanted to attend our courses. Only responsible adults are involved with this work, and our only goal is to deepen their connection to the Divine.
Satyananda was a brilliant scholar, who brought to our generation valuable insights into ancient wisdom. But he was seriously lacking in handling emotional and heart energy. He sent Sunyata to Osho for training in those areas.
Sunyata studied at the Bihar Ashram from 1961-64, and then was told to go out into the West and spread the knowledge he had gathered. The history of abuse goes back to 1967, long after Sunyata had left Bihar.
The main teacher in Australia, a classmate of Sunyata, was seriously demented. I spoke with his Executive Secretary as she was about to leave her involvement there, as she poured out her stories of his abusive nature. It was clear he was a perfect example of what can happen working with powerful energies but not doing emotional clearing. The energies can pull one into the dark side. By the way, stories of abuse in Australia were from the period 1978-84. I met Sunyata in late 1985, so there was no overlap. Sunyata had been teaching for years, but never involving children.
The Saraswati Order is very mental, and that was Sunyata’s comfort zone. My insistence on doing emotional release and heart opening exercises was the reason we split in 1992.
Please don’t hold Ipsalu accountable for the weakness of some of our sources. Ipsalu is dedicated to maintaining safety and the highest ethical and spiritual standards, always coming from a place of love.
The above statement pertains to the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which investigated reports of child sexual abuse at the Satyananda Yoga Ashram at Mangrove Mountain, New South Wales, and against Swami Akhandananda Saraswati and others (as well as a rape allegation against Satyananda himself). Testimonies and findings will be found at the above link.
Though the Australian inquiry took place in 2014 and findings were published in 2016, an Ipsalu newsletter published today mentions its connection to the teaching lineage of Satyananda (through Sunyata Saraswati, Ipsalu co-founder). Please be clear, however, that there are absolutely NO organizational links to the Bihar/Satyananda ashrams or ITI and never have been. But the teaching lineage exists.
Prior to Ipsalu’s statement today, other organizations with links to the Satyananda teachings have made public statements acknowledging the issue and expressing concern and support for the survivors. Some people have called for boycotts of Satyananda methods until reparations are paid to the abuse victims. I believe these and other actions demonstrate good citizenship on the part of such organizations, and lets the public know that these organizations believe in, and practice, accountability.
Ipsalu Tantra International (ITI) is a reputable organization that holds very high ethical standards for its teachers and certainly does not condone sexual abuse and coercion. It has a written policy of ethical standards and takes breaches seriously. Its spiritual practices are very effective and the community is a loving one. Now that ITI has made a statement on this matter, I am much relieved.
But I still can’t feel comfortable remaining with the organization. There are the reasons I expressed in an earlier blog (link above). Another big reason is that ITI is now emphasizing Osho (formerly Rajneesh) teachings in addition to its other practices. Therefore I am no longer in alignment with the organization or its mission. I wish ITI well, however, and have good feelings about the teachers that I know personally.
Note: ITI’s website is “broken” and cannot be edited right now. My teacher profile is likely to remain up until they can fix it and take it down.